Christmas Letter – 2016

One of my childhood memories of my grandparents was their ongoing subscription to the National Enquirer. After a Sunday afternoon meal, it was always amusing to flip through the oversized pages. Even as a young tadpole, it didn’t take me long to figure out that Bat Boy leading police on a three-state chase was probably not great journalism (you millennials will need to Google “Bat Boy”). Consider these other riveting headlines:

  • Obama Appoints Martian Ambassador
  • I Was Bigfoot’s Love Slave
  • Titanic Survivors Found on Board
  • Man Fries Egg on His Bald Head

I kid you not, those were real headlines. As strange as those seem, a quick review of 2016 makes me think we’re living in a strange, National-Enquirer-like reality today. Consider these headlines:

  • Bob Dylan wins a Nobel Prize
  • Britain exits from the European Union
  • Laughing Woman in Chewbacca Mask Becomes Overnight Sensation

and finally,

  • Donald Trump elected President of the United States

When I look back at the McGullion year in review, it’s not quite as flashy, but I’m inspired; if Trump can become president…anything is possible. So, I’m going to pull out the ole crystal ball and include some predictions for 2017 from Swami Lane (writer places turban squarely on head).

Let’s start with Austin. 2016 was a banner year for our guy. In the sports arena, he finished up a great basketball season where he made huge improvements in his game. I guess the coach thought so too by awarding him “Most Improved.” We learned early in the spring he has an undiscovered talent for soccer. He progressed from beginner to key player very quickly. It helps to be the fastest guy on the field. This was Austin’s senior year, so there were lots of big events. Prom was great; he looked very dashing. Graduation was bittersweet. He’s the last of our brood to finish high school, so we’re starting to look forward to empty nest (if anyone ever leaves ). Austin just finished his first semester at MTSU. He’s decided to move back home and reevaluate his future plans (remember that part about nobody leaving). Seriously, we’re happy to have him back around the house and look forward to seeing what the next phase of life holds for him.

Swami Lane predicts:

  • After a chance encounter at Wal-Mart, Austin and Bat Boy become best of friends inspiring the second season of Stranger Things (you Baby Boomers may have to Google Stranger Things).
  • In search of a career to make his father proud, Austin takes up the profession that his father only dreamt of. He now travels the country as a world renown rodeo clown.

Cassidy started off the year with wedding bells. She wed the dashing Tyler McIntosh during a chilly, January 1 ceremony. When you walk to the car holding your newborn daughter, you know that someday you’ll also walk her down an aisle, but it was still surreal – and the only time my eyes started to leak a little. Luckily it was cold enough to turn them into little icicles before we reached the altar. The newlyweds have taken up residence in our basement while they finish college. So, not only did she not leave the nest, she brought one back with her (sigh). Seriously, we love having them around, even if I do have to move three cars every morning to get out of the driveway. Both Cassidy and Tyler will be finishing college this time next year with a Nursing and Finance degree.

Swami Lane predicts:

  • Cassidy will put her nursing skills to use by performing the Heimlich maneuver on a patron at a local restaurant. The grateful man, who turns out to be a local producer, casts her in a supporting role for his off-Broadway production of Romeo and Juliet With a Twist (everyone may need to Google that).
  • The McIntosh’s Weimaraner dog, London, will escape one wintery afternoon and have a chance encounter with a dashing Chihuahua. The resulting Weihuahua puppies (pronounced why-wah-wah) are the newest hit in the hybrid community.

Kayla finished up her college career with a study abroad trip to Germany and the Netherlands. She had a great time while mom and dad eagerly awaited updates to confirm she hadn’t been taken. I warned her before she left to be careful because I am not Liam Neeson and I don’t have any special skills to get her back. She returned tired and with broader worldview. She graduated from KSU in the summer with a degree in Criminal Justice (Wahoo!). She had been working at a local ice cream place, the Frozen Cow Creamery. She was promoted to shift leader and doing a great job, but she knew it was time to get a “big girl job.” During her studies she gravitated toward the field of Victim Advocacy. She took the initiative to setup a fact-finding meeting with the director of the Victim Advocacy department for Cobb County. She didn’t really feel like that meeting accomplished much, but apparently it did. She got a call from the department head several weeks later to offer her a clerk position for the district attorney. Can you say “foot in the door?” She started just before Thanksgiving. Since then she’s received a positive review and will start shadowing an advocate in the courtroom once a month.

Kayla has been dating a fella for several months. His name is Tyler. My son-in-law is Tyler. I also just hired a young guy at work named Tyler. Not at all confusing. As long as Austin doesn’t start dating someone named Tyler we should be fine. Kayla and Tyler seem very happy and have even adopted a Siberian Husky.

Swami Lane predicts:

  • In a dramatic courtroom twist, Kayla will be called on to represent a defendant. Her eloquent argument results in justice being served. She will be on the fast track to district attorney.
  • The owner of the Frozen Cow Creamery decides to aggressively franchise his operations. He asks Kayla to consult and train an army of supervisors due to her mad liquid nitrogen skills. As a result, she receives a 25% stake in the company when it goes public.

Sonya is still my “Inspiration” That was our song from back in the day (Millennials – it’s a band called Chicago – just keep the Google app handy). She’s continuing to rack up medals for her running achievements. Speaking of Chicago (I wish I could say I planned that clever segue, but it was just a happy coincidence), she completed her third marathon in Chicago this year, shattering her personal best by 45 mins. While she was running I shattered my personal best of pancake consumption. When she’s not running, she’s becoming quite the animal in the gym. Her muscle definition is impressive. My muscle definition is – “a band or bundle of fibrous tissue in a human or animal body that has the ability to contract, producing movement in or maintaining the position of parts of the body” (you’ll get that eventually). Her fitness activities have translated into coaching – primarily in the Run For God ministry that she leads, but she’s considering making it official with a personal trainer certification. That’s right, fellas, I’m gonna be married to a personal trainer – BOOM!

She still burns the candle at both ends as a Children’s minister at church. It’s a time commitment for sure, but it’s worth the effort – the lives she is in a position to impact makes it all worthwhile.

Swami Lane predicts:

  • Sonya will be contacted by First Baptist Atlanta for a potential position in the children’s department. Apparently Charles Stanley ran across some YouTube videos of her VBS characters and in his words, “She looks spunky.” She declines because…
  • Sonya qualifies for the Boston Marathon. Grit and adrenaline push her beyond her limits and she miraculously passes all runners to win in a stunning upset. She’s an overnight sensation in the sporting world. As a result, she launches a line of motivational and training videos based on her best-selling book “I Beat the Kenyans. So Can YOU!”

Lane is still settling into the IT Manager gig. Hiring, firing, and performance appraisals – it’s what every little boy dreams of when the rodeo clown career seems out of reach. I’ll celebrate my five-year anniversary with Georgia-Pacific in January. As a service award I chose a cookware set. When I told my Stylist Supreme that I was going to wrap that up as a Christmas present for Sonya she almost sent me away with a half haircut. OK, OK, I’ll get her plan B – a lovely vacuum cleaner that I can tell she’s had her eye on.

Swami Lane predicts:

  • After ghost-writing the Kenyan-bashing blockbuster, Lane will use the power of the pen to help millions of parents around the globe with a series of books:
  • “The Empty Nest – Turning your Dream a Reality”
  • “Use Real Estate Investing to Purchase Your Empty Nest – Leave the Kids at Home”
  • “101 Tips to Offspring Independence”
  • President Trump will create the Department of Psychic Defense and appoint Swami Lane as department head. Many international incidents are foreseen and dastardly deeds are foiled. Everything is going well until an unfortunate prediction about a new presidential hairstyle goes awry. This results in Swami Lane being on the receiving end of the now famous tag line…You’re Fired!

What am I thinking? Empty nest is not a problem – we spend most of our time trying to figure out a way to travel anyway. This year we went on a cruise to St Maarten and St Thomas. Sonya ran laps around the boat while I tried my hand at surfing on the Flowrider. I’m happy to report that I stayed upright for a respectable 2.5 seconds. I’m also happy to report the whiplash-induced neck pain only lasted 24 hours. Over the 4th of July weekend we visited Miami. It was awesome to wade out into the ocean at night and see fireworks up and down the coast from Miami to Fort Lauderdale. I already mentioned Chicago. We also had some weekend getaways with friends. Pretty much anything that involves packing a bag, we’re up for.

So, Swami Lane made some astounding predictions for 2017, however, I’m certainly not a prophet. You know what is really astounding? Real prophets made over 300 predictions about the Messiah hundreds of years before Jesus showed up and fulfilled them all. All of them. I could bore you with the math, but the odds of that happening are far beyond a mathematical impossibility. Let that sink in and fortify your faith this holiday season.

Have a wonderful Christmas and a Happy New Year (Swami Lane has foreseen it).

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